The Newark Bears provide second (and third, and fourth) chances

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Yesterday the New York Times noted how the organizational philosophy of the Independent League Newark Bears was to provide a place for former big leaguers to play as they try to work their way back to The Show.  Indeed, just this season the Bears have been home to Armando Benitez, Carl Everett, Shawn Chacon, Jacque Jones, Marlon Anderson and Keith Foulke.

It seems that this philosophy extends to their front office too:

Dwight “Doc” Gooden is back in baseball at the independent minor league level.

The Newark Bears say the former Cy Young award winner, who pitched for the New York Yankees and New York Mets, will be hired as senior vice president of the Atlantic League franchise on Thursday.

Team spokesman Jesse Suskin says Gooden will serve as the Bears’ community ambassador in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city. The 44-year-old Gooden will work with youth baseball camps and leagues.

This is not merely some charity or publicity-driven job, as Gooden has worked in youth baseball in Tampa for the past several years.  Moreover, if you’re going to cultivate interest and excitement about your team and your programs in the New York/NJ area, it would be hard to find a better guy to do it than Doc Gooden.  For all of his foibles, people simply love the guy in New York.

On a more basic level, it’s good to finally hear news stories about Gooden that don’t involve trouble with the law or with substance abuse or what have you.  I hope this job works for him and I hope it keeps him in and around baseball for a long time.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.